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Tuesday March 17, 2020

COVID-19 & Parenting Time

Authored by: Terrance G. Sheppard, QC Posted in: COVID-19 Family Law

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting more than just toilet paper sales. It is also impacting divorced and separated parents regarding parenting time with their children.

For example, public schools and regulated childcare centres have closed for at least two weeks following March Break. If you have a court order or written agreement on where your child should reside during March Break, this extension can cause confusion as to where they remain.

The paramount consideration is the best interests of the child. There are a number of factors that courts consider when analyzing the best interests of the child. With COVID-19, courts will likely look to the child’s physical needs, including the child’s needs for stability and safety.1 Has your ex recently travelled outside of Canada? Does your child have a medical condition/a compromised immune system? These are all relevant factors to consider.

If your child becomes ill, ensure that you have open communication with the other parent to make decisions that are in your child’s best interests. Also consider having a discussion with the other parent about how you speak to your child about COVID-19 to reduce your child’s stress and encourage their mental well-being.

Keep in mind that unilaterally disregarding your court order or written agreement and refusing to drop your child off can land you in hot water. Courts take these agreements seriously and failing to follow them can lead to a change in your parenting order or even Contempt.

If the other parent lives in a different province, see if you can come to an agreement on a temporary change and get it in writing. If you cannot, it may be necessary to bring an emergency motion to deal with immediate parenting arrangements.

This blog is for informational purposes only. To get answers that apply to your unique situation, please call (902) 469-9500 to schedule your free 30-minute consultation with a member of our Family Law team. Appointments can be by phone or in person at our office. Contact us to schedule your consultation today.

1Parenting and Support Act, 2015 c 44, s 18(6)(a).

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